Learn about comfort and quality-of-life care for people and their families living with life-limiting illnesses.

Palliative care :

  • Aims to achieve the best quality of life for individuals and their families facing life-limiting or end of life issues 
  • Treatment focus is pain and symptom management
  • Seeks to address a person’s physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs
  • Does not hasten or delay death

Accessing palliative care services

  • Where is palliative care offered?

    At home

    Palliative care can be provided in people's homes through Home Health care offering professional nursing care and other care services. To help people remain at home, access to a variety of home support services (including personal care, after-hours telephone support and some supplies and equipment) is offered as needed or appropriate. Specialized palliative care consult teams and volunteers are available for expert advice, consultation and support to you and your family, as well as to health care providers.

    In hospital

    Short-stay beds are available on medical units in all Fraser Health hospitals for people with palliative diagnoses needing tests and treatment. Specialized palliative care consult teams provide expert advice, consultation and support about palliative care to staff, individuals and families. 

    Palliative complex care units

    Palliative complex care units aim to provide comfort and support to people and families experiencing difficulties managing complex physical symptom management issues, complex psychological/spiritual/social issues, family/caregiver distress, or other extensive or intensive care requirements. 

    Palliative complex care units are located in Burnaby Hospital, Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Surrey Memorial Hospital.

    In long-term care and assisted living facilities

    Consultation from specialized palliative care consult teams and local hospice society volunteer support is available to people with palliative diagnoses living in long-term care facilities in Fraser Health.

    To receive palliative care services in an assisted living facility, the person must be capable of directing his or her own care or have a spouse with them who is able to make health care and other decisions on their behalf.

    In hospice

    24 hour palliative care services are provided in hospice in most communities in the Fraser Health Authority.

  • How do I access palliative care services?

    Step one - Contact the Home Health Service Line

    Contact our Home Health Service Line at 1-855-412-2121.

    The Specialized Palliative Care Consult Team provides palliative care to individuals coping with end-of-life issues, They address physical, emotional and spiritual needs in order to relieve suffering and improve quality of life. Services can be provided at home, hospital, long-term care facility or hospice, and can include grief and bereavement counselling, some basic equipment and supplies in the home and access to a hospice or palliative complex care unit, based on need. Support is extended to family members.

    For an initial assessment regarding access and suitability of these services, call the Home Health Service Line at 1-855-412-2121 to speak with trained staff, seven days a week from 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Translation services are also available.

    If you have previously registered with Home Health, contact your community health nurse at the local community health office.

    Who can call?

    You or anyone on your behalf:

    • Family member
    • Hospital
    • Family doctor
    • Friend
    • Neighbour
    • Community group
    • Government agency

    What can I expect when I call?

    Home Health Service Line staff do their best to answer every call. Occasionally, the volume of calls during peak hours may mean you receive a voicemail message asking for a callback number, which will be returned by 4:30 p.m.

    We address each call individually as each situation is different. Our customer service staff will answer your questions to determine which of our services best addresses your needs.

    Step two - Get assessed by a community health nurse

    The community health nurse will work closely with you, your doctor your family to:

    • Evaluate your needs
    • Determine what kind of services are needed
    • Determine eligibility for services
    • Determine whether there will be any costs involved for certain services
    • Plan, coordinate and monitor multiple care services

    How long do I have to wait before I will see a community health nurse?

    People who are eligible may be seen within a couple of days or up to a week, depending on the urgency of need. While every attempt is made to accommodate urgent circumstances, these services are not emergency services.

    Services are prioritized for individuals who most urgently require these services.

    Step three - Develop a care plan

    Following the first few visits, an individualized care plan is developed and appropriate services are arranged. The goal is to help people to live at home as safely and as well as possible.

  • Is there a cost?

    Most services are covered by the B.C. Medical Services Plan or the B.C. Palliative Care Benefits program. 

    Eligible home support services are provided free of charge. However, there may be some additional charges for certain services such as per diem costs for hospice. 

    Visit our costs page in our Home Health Care section to learn more.

Eligibility for palliative care services

To receive palliative care services, a person:

  • Is 19 years or older
  • Has a life expectancy of less than a year
  • Is experiencing problems associated with a life-limiting illness or facing end-of-life issues
  • Treatment focus is on quality of life and not curative or prolongation of life.
  • Agrees to Palliative Care Services

Palliative Complex Care Unit (PCCU)

For admission to a  Palliative Complex Care Unit, a person must:

  • Require intensive, interdisciplinary intervention for complex pain and symptoms not currently well managed

When symptoms improve and a care plan is in place, the person will return home or move to a hospice or hospital in their own community.

Individuals can still receive care, but the intent is to improve the person’s quality of life rather than cure the disease.

Hospice

Hospices provide a home-like setting where palliative care is provided on a 24 hour basis.

For admission to  hospice, a person must:

  • have care needs that cannot be supported in a community or long-term care settings.
  • have a life expectancy of weeks to months.
  • agree to Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST) M1 or M2

Resources

  • Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association
    The national voice for Hospice Palliative Care in Canada. Advancing and advocating for quality end-of-life/hospice palliative care in Canada, its work includes public policy, public education and awareness.
  • B.C. Palliative Care Benefits Program: Application Form
    For palliative care drug coverage and requesting an assessment for medical supplies and equipment.
  • Canadian Virtual Hospice
    The Canadian Virtual Hospice provides support and personalized information about palliative and end-of-life care to patients, family members, health care providers, researchers and educators.
  • B.C. Ministry of Health: End of Life Care
    End-of-life care is supportive and compassionate care that focuses on comfort, quality of life, respect for personal health care treatment decisions, support for the family, and psychological, cultural and spiritual concerns for dying people and their families.
  • B.C. Palliative Care Benefits Program
    B.C. Palliative Care benefits are available to B.C. residents of any age who have reached the end stage of a life-threatening disease or illness and who wish to receive palliative care at home — meaning wherever the person is living, whether in their own home, with family or friends, in a supportive/assisted living residence, or in a hospice unit at a long term care home (for example, a community hospice bed that is not covered under PharmaCare Plan B).